No, it's not anti-semitic

The Editors

Judith Butler in the LRB, 21 August 2003:

It will not do to equate Jews with Zionists or Jewishness with Zionism. There were debates among Jews throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries as to whether Zionism ought to become the basis of a state, whether the Jews had any right to lay claim to land inhabited by Palestinians for centuries, and as to the future for a Jewish political project based on a violent expropriation of land. There were those who sought to make Zionism compatible with peaceful co-existence with Arabs, and those who used it as an excuse for military aggression, and continue to do so. There were those who thought, and still think, that Zionism is not a legitimate basis for a democratic state in a situation where a diverse population must be assumed to practise different religions, and that no group ought to be excluded from any right accorded to citizens in general on the basis of their ethnic or religious views. And there are those who maintain that the violent appropriation of Palestinian land, and the dislocation of 700,000 Palestinians, was an unsuitable foundation on which to build a state. Yet Israel is now repeating its founding gesture in the containment and dehumanisation of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories...

Many important distinctions are elided by the mainstream press when it assumes that there are only two possible positions on the Middle East, the ‘pro-Israel’ and the ‘pro-Palestinian’. The assumption is that these are discrete views, internally homogeneous, non-overlapping, that if one is ‘pro-Israel’ then anything Israel does is all right, or if ‘pro-Palestinian’ then anything Palestinians do is all right. But few people’s political views occupy such extremes. One can, for instance, be in favour of Palestinian self-determination, but condemn suicide bombings, and find others who share both those views but differ on the form self-determination ought to take. One can be in favour of Israel’s right to exist, but still ask what is the most legitimate and democratic form that existence ought to take. If one questions the present form, is one anti-Israel? If one holds out for a truly democratic Israel-Palestine, is one anti-Israel? Or is one trying to find a better form for this polity, one that may well involve any number of possibilities: a revised version of Zionism, a post-Zionist Israel, a self-determining Palestine, or an amalgamation of Israel into a greater Israel-Palestine where all racially and religiously based qualifications on rights and entitlements would be eliminated?


  • 28 July 2014 at 9:04pm
    streetsj says:
    I can't remember if it has a name, but there is a form of auction that compels its participants to irrationality. You bid for an object of clear value - say a £10 note - the highest bid wins but anyone who has bid something lower also has to pay whatever they bid last. For most people it's not clear until they're trapped that there is no profitable way out of this auction. The only rational course is not to get involved at all.
    What am I bid? £1? 50p? Come on £10 is surely worth a 10p bid at least.?

    • 29 July 2014 at 12:18am
      kenp says: @ streetsj
      I would be tempted to bid 10p at least, but I would try to find out the following:
      - is the tenner genuine or counterfeit, and if counterfeit does it have any intrinsic value,
      - who does the tenner belong to, and how would he/she stand to benefit. This makes it a whole lot more complicated. Perhaps he is a fraudster, killer or serial killer... in which case best to steer clear.

    • 31 July 2014 at 8:42pm
      streetsj says: @ kenp
      It's entirely genuine and is honestly owned. The point being that once you have bid and someone else has bid it is "logical" for both of you to keep bidding forever. Assuming you and any other bidders are not colluding.
      I have done this experiment for real and managed to raise over £15 for my £5 note. Bidders gradually dropped out as they began to realise the folly of having got involved in the first place.
      To spell it out, my point was simply that once you have skin in the game it becomes close to impossible (and arguably irrational) for any party to pull out.